Thank You Miss World, Miss Philippines is the New Miss Universe

Yey! Miss Universe 2018 is Philippines!  First of all, I want to say congratulations to everyone in my country.  Catriona Gray, our representative in this year’s edition of Miss Universe was crowned the queen! 

got this photo from catriona;s instagram

Catriona Gray was amazing throughout the Miss Universe pageant show.  She set a new standard of beauty pageant “walk” because of her now viral and infamous slow-mo twirl.  And her red fire gown during the finals night reminded me of Katniss Everdeen in the book Hunger Games!  She was the clear winner and she was indeed a cut above the rest! 

Since joining the elite beauty pageant world, Catriona has been amazing.  She has always been the girl to beat.  She did us proud when she landed top 5 in Ms. World a couple of years ago.  I thought during that contest, she should have won because aside from being so stunning, she gave the best answer.  But though she was robbed in that contest, I am now thankful that she was because she obviously is up for bigger and better things.

The Ms. World organizers must now be scratching their dense and dimwitted heads. So thank you Ms. World for letting us down during that time because otherwise, my country would have not clinched the most coveted pageant title in the universe for the fourth time.

In the past week, I got the chance to view YouTube videos of Catriona’s journey in Ms. Universe.  Her approach was really different as compared to other equally amazing Ms. Philippines representatives in the past.  Catriona chose to put meaning and representations in almost all elements of her joining the Ms. Universe pageant.  She is so in love with the culture and colors of the Philippines, that she made sure these are included in her presentations. 

fun art on catriona;s national costume. got this too from catriona’s instagram

After watching those videos, you would just know how much effort, time, dedication and heart was poured by Catriona in reaching for her ultimate goal of being crowned as the new Miss Universe. Equipped with beauty, charm, sharp thinking and excellent communication skills, Catriona Gray truly deserves to win!

Congratulations Catriona.  Congratulations Philippines!

Pinektusan ang Unibers!

Ibis Styles Mexico Zona Rosa and the Internet

How did people travel before the Internet?  This question I guess would be too much to ponder about.    Imagine trying to simply pick out a restaurant where you want to dine simply in random.  Or booking for an airplane ticket without the assurance that you will be seated along the aisle. What about packing for your travel?  Without the internet, how would you know what sets of clothes to pack when you would have no idea on the upcoming weather forecast in your travel destination?  Pinoy travelers in the past (being from the tropics) I suppose suffered from hypothermia when they do travel at the northern and southern temperate zones of the planet. 

Imagine going to a place that has long been written in your bucket list without a hotel accommodation reservation?  How can a traveler budget a travel expense without the internet? Planning for a trip before the advent of an Internet would I guess been so difficult that you would rather stay home. It must have been some sort of a nightmare then. 

Thanks to internet, travelling to a different country nowadays has been so easy.  And thanks to internet, I found Ibis Styles Mexico Zona Rosa, the hotel where I stayed while I was in Mexico. 

clean and colorful lobby
bar & dining area 
instagramable clock inside the room.  this is so mexico!
dining area

 I initially found Ibis Styles Mexico Zona Rosa through AccorHotels.com since I am an Accor card holder.  My membership gives me the privilege of being offered a discounted member’s rate.  But I did not booked my stay in Ibis Style via this website because surprisingly Booking.com (which I am a member also) offers a much reasonable price inclusive of breakfast.  I opted of course to the website that offers cheaper pricing. Who would not want a bargain?!

Ibis group of hotels has always been a reliable group of hotel brand that I have stayed at.  Though it’s not grand nor luxurious, this hotel simply provides what I need in terms of facilities, services and security.  Ibis Styles Mexico Zona Rosa is no different because I enjoyed my stay in this hip hotel.  It is clean, quiet and comfortable. 

clean, quiet & comfy
super hip! i love the colors and the modern set-up 
will definitely not feature this hotel if i was not impressed

Aside from being in such an excellent location in Zona Rosa area of the city, I particularly love the aesthetics of this hotel.  It is young, it is vibrant, it is happy! 

Without the internet, how in the world would I know and enjoyed staying this hotel?  Thanks internet!

Komportabol!

The Spectacular Teotihuacan

One of the beautiful highlights of my recent trip to Mexico was my visit at the magnificent ruins of Teotihuacan.  It is about an hour bus ride from the modern-day Mexico City.  And because there are massive information available online on how to get to these ruins by commute, I decided to do the adventure by following the instructions indicated on various blogs and web write-ups.  I could have simply joined a tour group but as usual, I challenged myself. 

courageously doing a commute at the bus station armed with a lot of things

I learned from my first few days that majority of Mexicans do not really speak English.  Thus, before I left for this ancient city, I armed myself with adequate internet data, the proficient Google Maps and reminded myself the simple steps to communicate, i.e. (i) speak English slowly; (ii) drop the articles as they only cause confusion; (iii) repeat the main concept two or three time; (iv) gesticulate; and, (v) smile a lot.

Teotihuacan was really overwhelming!  And based on various write-ups, no one knows who built this humongous ancient city.  It was so old that it was already in ruins before the ancient Aztecs were able to discover this old puzzling metropolis.  In 1987 this ancient city was designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.  And since it is so close to the modern-day Mexico City, Teotihuacan has been the most visited archeological site in Mexico. 

on my way to the pyramids via calle de los muertos
pyramid of the sun
strike a pose! it’s one of the largest pyramids!
unbelievable! I had to pinch myself!
cleverly called… the avenue of the dead
mysterious!
i need to have a selfie! on top of the pyramid of the moon!
photo taken from the pyramid of the moon
i love this shot!

What for me is so cool about Teotihuacan is how spots in this ancient city were named and labelled.  Mexicans’ naming of the interesting places of Teotihuacan gave it more appeal and character.  Whoever tagged or named the places inside Teotihuacan are so smart and imaginative.

And since the term “Teotihuacan” meant as “the birth place of the gods” or “the place where men turns into gods”, it is but fitting that this ancient city has the Pyramid of the Sun (the third largest pyramid in the world) and the more gracious-looking Pyramid of the Moon.  There was even a location that is sensationally called the “Temple of the Feathered Serpent”! 

feeling happy & feeling blessed! pyramid of the moon at the background…
will definitely not forget this adventure

The coolest actually was how the main road leading to the pyramids was called.  The central 2.4-kilometer main road is called Calle de los Muertos or “the Avenue of the Dead”.  So when I was walking on this runway, it felt dramatic! I felt like I was being transformed by some creative spirit from being a human being to some sort of a god!  It was really amazing! 

Teotihuacan, built hundreds of years before the birth of Christ, will remain a mystery.  Little is known about its first inhabitants and why this magnificent place was later abandoned.  Whatever is the mystery behind the ruins of Teotihuacan, it remain to be something so pleasing and imaginative.  Its mystery definitely adds up to its awesome charm. 

Ispektakular! Ang galing!

China Has Yet To Discover The Colors Of La Ciudadela

In my past travels abroad, one usual reference for me to know if I am in an actual tourist destination or near it are the hordes of Chinese tourists.  This group of tourists has always been my basis to ascertain if I am on the right spot.

And once I see a bunch of Chinese tourists (usually loud and boisterous), I am somewhat glad that I am actually at the correct tourist destination and that Google Maps did not fail me.

However, in Mexico City, there seem to be a lack of Chinese tour groups.  I don’t miss them but I was left wondering how come they are not around.  The Chinese touring population seem to have yet discover the sites and beauty of what Mexico City has to offer.    

To confirm and with hopes of bumping into this touring Chinese clusters, I set a date of going to Mercado De Artesanias La Ciudadela, a colorful 16,000 square meter market that sells traditional Mexican handicrafts and regional specialties like textiles, ceramics, silver works, embroideries, handwoven blouses, blankets, guitars, etc.

I know that Chinese loves to shop and splurge their wealth every time they go on tour out of their country.  La Ciudadela would definitely be the best tourist-location to find them.  But to my surprise, they however were not around.  I even thought that I was not at the correct La Ciudadela that I even asked a German-sounding tourist shopper if I am indeed in the right artisanal market.    

Well I guess, Chinese tours has yet to discover Mexico City which for sure they would eventually will.  I instead enjoyed my shopping at La Ciudadela, took a lot of photos and got myself some colorful trinkets of memories of this wonderful Mexican adventure.   

Wala ang mai-ingay!

Templo Mayor & Piedra Del Sol

In my recent travel, I spent all my visiting days in Mexico City.  I opted to stay in the city and not move out or visit other places in Mexico because I prefer to completely immerse to the city’s rich culture.  This of course is beside the motive of giving myself a reason to go back to Mexico. Hahaha!

Mexico City is too vast to fully explore in two weeks and it’s seem impossible to see and experience the city in just a couple of days.  And what is good about staying in Mexico City is that visitors can still see and experience the old Mexico because right at the city center exists a very cool ruins called Templo Mayor.

templo mayor ruins  
the city beneath mexico city
a massive ancient metropolis 
portions of templo mayor

The incredible thing about Templo Mayor is that it is right near Zocalo, the center square of Mexico Ciity.  And that the existing and present city of Mexico was actually built on top of it.  Its like Templo Mayor ruins is just beneath the grounds of the present modern city.

Here’s one cool lecture and quick history lesson!  When the Spaniards arrived in Mexico City, it was actually an Aztec city at that time.  The Aztec people known as Mexica people had a huge beautiful city.  And basically the Spaniards (though they did not destroyed it), built over and on top of this Aztec City a new and modern metropolis.  So the huge Catholic cathedrals in downtown Mexico are actually built on the foundation of an ancient ruin.  And this ruin is known as Templo Mayor.

Templo Mayor as I noticed is still actually being studied and dug up.  It is a work in progress so as to fully understand the culture, customs, civilization and background of ancient Mexico.  It is so cool to know that the existing city is actually on top of another city!

And one of the major archeological find in Templo Mayor is the Sun Stone or locally known as the Piedra Del Sol.  Discovered in 1790, the Sun Stone now is housed at the National Anthropology Museum of Mexico City and is considered the most famous work of Aztec sculpture. 

piedra del sol (the sun stone)
the usual and common design on mexico souvenir shirts

When I personally saw such a massive monolithic sculpture, my jaw simply dropped!  I could not describe the elation when I saw the Sun Stone!  I could not believe that I am actually seeing the actual figure and image of the most iconic sculpture in Mexico! 

This sculpture is one of Mexico’s famous symbols.  It is basically printed in almost all types of Mexican souvenir items (shirts, mugs, wall decors, keychains, etc.).  I did quite a number of readings about Piedra Del Sol after I have been stunned by the massiveness and beauty of it.  And I have learned that there was even a poem that was composed by a Nobel prize-winning poet because of the beauty, mystery and grandeur of such an epic piece of stone. 

12 feet in diameter and weighs 24 tons
ding ang bato!

There are a lot of different theories that historians and archeologists have about the stone’s meaning, its use and its intention.  Some think it was used as a calendar and some say it has some significance concerning ancient religion, geography, politics or even something else that hasn’t yet been thought of.

But whatever its original meaning, it is arguably now the most important Aztec sculpture that exists in the world today.  As for me, I prefer not to interpret nor even think deeper.  I simply prefer to be marveled by the beauty, intricacy and grandeur of such a massive piece of work.

Parang gusto ko iuwi nung nakita ko yang batong yan!

Wowed by Biblioteca Vasconcelos

If you don’t know me yet, and though I don’t look like one, let me tell you that I absolutely love books and reading.  That is why when I travel, there is always a book that I would bring along with me.

So when I heard that there is a unique mega library in Mexico City and even though it is not included in Tripadvisor’s the top 15 destinations to visit in Mexico City, I know that this would be a place that I have to check out.

It’s Biblioteca Vasconcelos!  I didn’t know really what to expect.  But when I walked in, I literally let go of a massive gasp.  It was so loud,  a bunch of quiet people inside the building knew that there is an elated first timer who has just entered.   

This place is unlike any other places that I have been to.  The architecture is incredibly unique and it is not just like any other library but unlike any other place I have ever seen!  And the more entire I went, the more incredible it becomes.

After the first initial wow impression, the next thing I noticed is just the sheer scale and size of the building.  The uniqueness is that you would see people around: beside you, beneath you and above you.  Some of the floors are actually thick translucent glass.

Biblioteca Vasconcelos opened in 2007 and has over half a million books.  It got its name after Jose Vasconcelos who is a Mexican philosopher, a former presidential candidate and was also the president of the national library of Mexico.   

I noticed that the walls are transparent and that the floors seem mismatched.  It also have very intricate staircases and balconies, it reminds me of the movie Inception in a scene where things were folding on to each other.  I really felt like I was in a sci-fi novel.  It gave me the feeling of being set in the future which not many equally awesome buildings could do.

Biblioteca Vasconcelos is called a mega library because it is actually 5 libraries merged into one.  And each one library is dedicated and pay homage to Mexico’s great thinkers.

One thing that really takes center stage inside this library is the massive white whale skeleton done by an artist named Gabriel Orozco.  The whale’s skeleton, fitted onto a metal armature and inscribed with granite rings and circles, hangs suspended in midair.  It seem visible from almost all sections and every point within the library.

The library is so massive, there are tons of areas where people can sit and work.  Entrance of course is for free and there is free wifi.  And what is best is that Tripadvisor seem to have yet discover this place as one cool tourist destination. 

If you are a book lover like me or an architecture fanatic or just want to see a really unique place within Mexico City, then Biblioteca Vasconcelos is definitely worth a visit.  

Waw as is WAW!

Impressions of Mexico City

I planned of going to Mexico City more than 6 months ago.  I purchased my airfare and booked my hotels about the same time.  Problems arose along the way especially regarding the online travel agent I got who cancelled and refunded my 6-month old plane ticket 10 days prior to the actual flight and have yet to inform me the reasons for such cancellation.  Two days after such cancellation, I still decided to still push through with the adventure by courageously buying a Turkish Airline ticket bound for Mexico City.

Prior to me leaving for Mexico City, lots of friends and colleagues are questioning me why I chose to do a solo travel in such a dingy and dangerous place.  They relayed that they have read and heard a lot about Mexico City being precarious, unsafe and pick-pocket infested.  But since it is one country that welcomes me without having to apply for a tourist visa (since I am a US and Japan multiple entry visa holder), I did not listen to friends and relatives and still push through with my journey.   

Now, I am here in remarkable Mexico City, spending almost two weeks already – not that I am asking – yet I have yet to feel and experience the worry and uneasiness that my friends and colleagues has informed me.  I must admit that I was a bit worried at first, but all these anxiety and fear were totally erased once I walked the busy streets of the city.  This was fully reinforced when I survived a train ride during a rush hour!  Besides, I grew up in a similarly perilous and dodgy City of Pasay in Manila, thus, I can actually use my innate and fully developed skill in dealing with the crooks, the felonious and the delinquents.

Similar to Metro Manila, Mexico City is vast and humongous!  But I personally prefer the weather of this city as compared to the Manila weather.  Mexico got 4 seasons, Manila got 2.  You can never let me wear a jacket outdoors in Manila, because it is either hot or very hot!

I hate to compare but the architecture in Mexico is a bit better as compared to the structures found in Manila.  Metro train system in Mexico City is of course more intricate and more reliable as compared to the rundown, often-busted and politically-exploited metro train in Manila.  And though Philippines and Mexico similarly experienced more than 300 years of Spanish rule, Mexico seem to have maintained its Spanish roots because they seem to possess more European looking buildings.     

The similarity between Manila and Mexico City I guess would be regarding cleanliness and the people.  There are lots of people everywhere and both cities needs to improve a lot concerning cleanliness! Another similarity would be the traffic.  Though Mexico has intricate and more developed metro train, its traffic is as bad as that of Manila.  Both cities are traffic-infested!

Mexico City love art!  One noticeable person printed on their money (500 Mexican peso denomination) is an art goddess, Frida Khalo.  Also, I was actually surprised to find out that this city got the most number of museums.  And even on the street, people tend to express themselves through art.  Humongous mural arts, lots of colorful graffiti and numerous art performances can be seen on the streets of the city.      But I guess the one thing that Manila is better as compared to Mexico would be the smile.  Though Mexicans tend to be more passionate and expressive – there’s lots of sensual kissing inside the train, amatory hugging on the streets and even lgbt members freely holding hands while walking – we in Manila smile more, we seem kindlier and seem gentler as compared to the fierce and audacious people of Mexico City.

If you would ask me if I will go back and revisit Mexico City.  I would definitely will!

Di naman nakaka-shokot… Biba Meksiko!